I’ve missed him. He’s shivering in our kitchen, next to the glow of the electric heater. Whimpers escape his lips, ants fleeing a doomed nest.

I glide forward and reach out a hand to his cheek. It slides straight through; disappointment again. Au revoir, mon amour. Until next time.


The ward nurse

2,196 words – approx. 7 minutes

The first time it happens is on a Tuesday, an accident. It’s her twelfth day on in a row, all of them thrumming with latent danger. The ward is short-staffed, and there’s no time to think if she’s to complete her rounds. She has to operate on instinct alone, and even that might not be enough.

She has a system, but this is coming under increasing strain as more patients are admitted, each of them needing regular water, or pills, or to be helped to the bathroom. She scuttles up and down the low-ceilinged halls, the chlorine tang reminding her of swimming pools. Her own bathroom breaks are timed for when she is already going down those corridors, so she doesn’t have to go out of her way and lose precious seconds.

There is a constant ache behind her eyes.

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